The drum is an intensely dynamic instrument. Even with the very best midi multilayered drum module, it will not come close to the natural dynamics of a real kit. The solution to this is to have several keymaps of the same kit, one played soft, medium and loud. You can switch between them at different points of the song. This is often a better answer than using a typical velocity switched kit
Most good modules and drum machines have velocity routed not only to volume, but to a low pass filter. This makes the hard hit brighter as well as louder. The trick here is to go into the event editor of your sequencer and make sure every hit has its own unique velocity number. If you must use looped patterns in your sequence, make sure you do this before you hit the loop command. This is extremely important on cymbals as real cymbals never sound the same twice.
The drum pattern gets it's feel from a number of factors. The feel might be described as "uptight" "tight", "in the pocket", "laid back" "loose"--there are many more ways to describe them. Much of what gives the pattern feel is the position of the snare relative to the center of beats 2 and 4. For a tight, near jazz feel go into your event editor and select all the snares and move them a few midi ticks ahead. Do it while you are playing the pattern to you can instantly hear the result. For a ballad feel, usually a tad behind the pocket, move the snares the other way. The groove will relax.
Drummers, by nature, have only two hands and two feet. This means at any given moment in time, there should be no more than 4 notes sounding. Drummers instinctively know this and if they are going to get a great drum sound they have to do things with these 4 hits to make them really stand out. Drummers don't have 64 different percussion instruments they can play simultaneously. With MIDI, you are rather unlimited. This is a problem that leads many a midiphile astray! Its a great idea to impose limits on yourself so every song does not sound "over drummed" If you force yourself to think this way, you will appreciate what drummers do with a trap kit of 10 basic sounds and 4 notes.
You've probably heard that to get "natural" sounding tracks you need to turn quantize functions off and keep them off. Don't buy it! Let the Tweak correct the record here. Very few of us have the ability to lay down a consistent drum groove on a keyboard without some form of correction. The trick is to fully use quantize tools to the max to get the authentic drum sound. What you should try to avoid is quantizing the entire drum track. Instead, select only individual drum lines and quantize them. For instance, quantize all the kiks and perhaps all the closed hi hats, but leave the rest unquantized. Then go back and see where your snares are. Quantize some of them, but manually adjust others to be ahead and behind the beat and add flams on certain hits. Your sequencer has a "groove quantize" function. This allows you to consistently add offsets to 8th, 12th and 16th notes. Perfect for tweaking the kik and hats. However after quantizing your work is not done. Now you go back and manually add the accents, leading notes, the flams, the soft notes, fix the rolls and change velocities on any hits that sound the same. Do the crash cymbals last and experiments with sliding it ahead and behind the downbeat. Sliding it ahead a few ticks often adds incredible excitement to a climax, and moving it behind makes it sound like a royally expected crash.
These tips about drums have been brought to you by computer music man.
If you have any worthy drum tips to suggest, leave them as a comment and I will add them
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